Puerto Plata, on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast, has beach getaways down pat. Read on for the top kid-friendly places to stay in the Dominican beach destination.
For a massive all-inclusive mega-resort, the Iberostar Costa Dorada is the best in Puerto Plata -- great buffets, entertainment, service, and activities (dance classes, Spanish lessons, archery, bingo...). The daily kids' club has a playground, miniature pool tables, and loads of games. Most kids, however, prefer the pool where the animation team keeps them active throughout the day. Nightly stage shows may include beauty pageants, game shows, and a summer-camp talent competition. But they're fun -- especially for parents with a rum slushie in hand.
Located inside the Playa Dorada resort complex -- a safe mini-city for tourists -- the Gran Ventana is a relaxed, uncommonly friendly resort with clean rooms, excellent service, and a large though slightly crowded beach. Features like free bikes, a zero-entry pool, a kids’ club, and animated movie screenings make it great for families.
This family-friendly resort has an above-average buffet, 425 clean rooms that are among the most modern you'll find for this category, and one of the best beaches on the north coast. It’s a great value, if you ignore the cheap booze and a pool that's less awe-inspiring than others. A plus for many families: the atmosphere here tends to be quieter than at many other mega-resorts.
Part of the sprawling Lifestyle Holidays complex, the Cofresi Palm Beach is a lovely, upper-middle-range property with a gorgeous white-sand beach, five pools, a tranquil spa, and a long list of on-site activities that appeal to both families and couples. Updated rooms feature sleek decor and spacious marble bathrooms; yet-to-be-updated rooms are bland, and show some wear and tear. Nonetheless, this hotel is a great option for those seeking a laid-back beach getaway.
The Crown Villas are the most luxurious accommodation option at the massive Lifestyle Holidays complex. They come with either three or four bedrooms, a bathroom for every bedroom, a large kitchen, a sunny terrace, and a private pool. Property features here are plentiful, but reaching some (including the beach, depending on the location of your villa) can take up to a half hour of walking. For this reason, the hotel offers golf cart rentals. Renovated villas are extremely stylish and sleek; those staying in villas that have not yet been renovated may feel short-changed.
Be Live Collection Marien is a mellow, family-friendly resort where the action is centered around the massive pool and games in the activities hut. Families tend to outnumber couples and partiers, though you might find a few guests drinking in the disco in the wee hours. The lushly landscaped resort consists of nine compact buildings that surround an enormous zero-entry swimming pool.
Part of the massive Lifestyle Holidays complex, The Tropical boasts the closest location to the beach. Features here are plentiful and most -- including the tranquil spa and the kids’ club -- are conveniently found on the resort’s grounds. For additional dining options and nightlife, however, guests must make the trek to the neighboring sister properties. Suites, with their modern kitchens and technology, have more of an upscale vibe than standard rooms.
This mid-range all-inclusive attracts all kinds of travelers with its inexpensive rates. While it does not include the usual in-room Wi-Fi and non-motorized watersports that come standard at most all-inclusive resorts in the area, the Riu Bachata does feature a kids’ club, fun daily and nightly entertainment, and two pools, one with a lively swim-up bar. The large beach here is the main draw; the main drawback would likely be the bland rooms -- or the bland food.
While not quite a luxury hotel, the upscale, family-friendly Blue JackTar is a quiet property located on the golf course in Puerto Plata’s gated Playa Dorada complex. Although it’s an older resort, Blue JackTar has been completely refreshed and updated. Spacious rooms have a casual, beachy vibe, though none of them have beach views. The hotel’s pool is large and rarely crowded, probably because guests prefer the gorgeous daybeds on the beach. The main restaurant, Green Jack, serves an international menu with a few Dominican specialities -- and might just be the best place to have dinner in all of Playa Dorada. A beachfront restaurant, Jack's Kite and Grill, was added after our visit. As far as freebies go, there’s free parking, Wi-Fi, and daily breakfast with extensive hot and cold options. There isn't as much here specifically for kids as other resorts on this list, but there are tennis courts, a basketball court, and a soccer field, plus resort's calm and quiet might appeal to families.
This budget-friendly property attracts families, couples, and solo travelers with its many features and affordable rates. Rooms are outdated and there are numerous complaints about the food being bland, but those seeking an inexpensive getaway can enjoy the hotel’s large beach and numerous pools. There are daily children’s activities at the kids’ club, and guests get access to the sister property’s restaurants and entertainment.